Book Review: My Fate According To The Butterfly by Gail D Villanueva

Book: My Fate According To The Butterfly by Gail D Villanueva

Published July 2019 by Scholastic Press|240 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade

When superstitious Sab sees a giant black butterfly, an omen of death, she knows that she’s doomed! According to legend, she has one week before her fate catches up with her — on her 11th birthday. With her time running out, all she wants is to celebrate her birthday with her entire family. But her sister, Ate Nadine, stopped speaking to their father one year ago, and Sab doesn’t even know why.

If Sab’s going to get Ate Nadine and their father to reconcile, she’ll have to overcome her fears — of her sister’s anger, of leaving the bubble of her sheltered community, of her upcoming doom — and figure out the cause of their rift.

So Sab and her best friend Pepper start spying on Nadine and digging into their family’s past to determine why, exactly, Nadine won’t speak to their father. But Sab’s adventures across Manila reveal truths about her family more difficult — and dangerous — than she ever anticipated.

Was the Butterfly right? Perhaps Sab is doomed after all!

I liked My Fate According To The Butterfly!  It’s a cute and heart-warming middle grade book that’s worth checking out.

I really liked Sab, and her connection to butterflies.  It’s an interesting story, and I never thought of butterflies as being a sign of death before this book.  For me, the black butterfly wasn’t literal, in terms of how it relates to the story.  She learns a lot about her dad and family and how things aren’t what she thought they were.

Maybe that’s what the butterfly represents- learning something about your family and how things aren’t what they seem.  It also seemed to give her something to focus on and it seems to set things in motion for her and her family.

I do get why her mom didn’t say anything about what was really going on with her dad.  I didn’t get why her sister didn’t talk to their dad, but I do understand why she wouldn’t say anything to Sab.  It makes total sense they’d want to protect her from that, and it must have been hard to hear what had really happened.  But hopefully Nadine will be able to make amends with their dad, and hopefully things will eventually be okay.

Sab definitely has an adventure going all over Manila with her best friend Pepper, and I wish we got to see more of it.  I liked what we saw, but I did find myself wishing we saw more.  It seems like Sab is pretty sheltered, and we see that she has to be pretty careful when she leaves her quiet neighborhood.  It’s a world she isn’t used to, that’s for sure.

Something I did find confusing was her relationship with her sister.  It’s a minor thing, I guess, but for most of the book, I kept forgetting Nadine was her sister and not her aunt or an older cousin.  She’s actually called Ate Nadine throughout the book, and for some reason, it made me think of aunt or someone who taking of care of her.  Her sister does, because her parents aren’t together and her mom travels a lot but I found that it threw me off a little bit.

3 stars.  I did like this book, and I liked seeing Sab’s learn more about her family, but I didn’t love it.  It’s still worth reading, though!

Book Review: Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz

Book: Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz

Published October 2018 by Starscape Books|288 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

An uplifting middle-grade debut about perseverance against all odds, Marie Miranda Cruz’s debut Everlasting Nora follows the story of a young girl living in the real-life shanty town inside the Philippines’ North Manila Cemetery.

After a family tragedy results in the loss of both father and home, 12-year-old Nora lives with her mother in Manila’s North Cemetery, which is the largest shanty town of its kind in the Philippines today.

When her mother disappears mysteriously one day, Nora is left alone.

With help from her best friend Jojo and the support of his kindhearted grandmother, Nora embarks on a journey riddled with danger in order to find her mom. Along the way she also rediscovers the compassion of the human spirit, the resilience of her community, and everlasting hope in the most unexpected places.

I liked Everlasting Nora!  I really felt for Nora, and she has a lot to deal with.  There’s something very hopeful about this book, and I definitely finished the book feeling like everything was going to work out for Nora and her mom.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a shany town set up in a cemetery.  Even though everyone seems to be living where they have family members buried, I wonder if that’s the case for everyone, and how it works if it’s not a family member and their family comes to visit?

We do see in one or two scenes where they have to move so that they’re not seen at a funeral service.  Granted, it was at a different cemetery than the one Nora lives at but it still highlighted things that Nora possibly had to deal with.  That was an interesting detail, and it made the book seem more real somehow.

She has to rely on others when her mom disappears in order to pay off her gambling debts.  Nora has to help out too, and I felt so sad that she had to leave school when her father died, and they ran out of the money they had after his death.

We see the difference between having money and having nothing and needing to help out by working in order to survive.  It’s not a new concept for middle grade or YA, but I liked the setting of living in a graveyard.  It showed that life is different in other countries, and that everyone is going through something.

I’m glad things got better for Nora, and I hope things continue to work out for Nora and her mom.

3 stars.  I wish I had more to say about Everlasting Nora, but it don’t.  It’s pretty hopeful, and I definitely recommend it.